A small crowd of supporters of Albert Kalonji whose ethnic group is not to be represented in the new parliament gather outside the Palais de la Nation, in Kinshasa, for the Independence Day ceremony on June 30th, 1960.
Albert Kalonji was the leader, or Chef Suprême du Peuple Muluba et Protecteur Incontesté des Tribus Associées à son sort (Supreme Chief of the Muluba People and Uncontested Protector of the Associated Tribes), of the short-lived secessionist state of South Kasai during the Congo Crisis.
Inspired by president of Kitanga Province Moise Tshombe’s announcement to secede from Congo due to the political turmoil at the time, declaring Katanga’s independence on July 11th, 1960, Kalonji declared the independence of diamond-rich province South Kasai on August 8th, 1960.
Despite being a member of the same political party as Lumumba, Kalonji despised Lumumba due to the slaughter of thousands of his people, the Luba, which Kalonji blamed on the Congolese central government. This is a claim made by US CIA officer Larry Devlin, who was instrumental in securing US influence on the continent, in his book Chief of Station, Congo.
Kalonji’s reign over his secessionist state was short-lived and, after a four-month military campaign by the Congolese government, he was arrested on December 30th, 1961. Kalonji managed to escape and went on to maintain a government until October 1962.
After Joseph Mobutu’s coup in 1965, South Kasai was divided into two regions to discourage any future secessionist movements.
Kalonji, born either in 1919 or 1929 is still living.